Tuesday 11 March 2014

The Litany of Aengus, Céile Dé

On March 11 we commemorate Saint Aengus (Oengus) the Martyrologist, a saint associated with the Céle Dé monastery of Tallaght. The story of how Saint Aengus came to Tallaght and of how he came to compose his famous Félire can be found in last year's post here. The name of Saint Aengus is also associated with a number of other writings, including the litany below, which is one of a number of hagiographical tracts preserved in the Book of Leinster. The attribution to Saint Aengus the Martyrologist was made by the 17th-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, and followed by writers ever since. However, Wesley Follet, a modern scholar who has cast a critical eye over the Céli Dé movement, argues that Colgan’s grounds for doing so are not well-founded. They seem to rest on nothing more than the fact that in the Book of Leinster these tracts come immediately after the Martyrology of Tallaght. Colgan therefore concluded that they too had been produced by Saint Aengus, not knowing that the Book of Leinster does not preserve the original order of these texts. Follet argues that when correctly assembled, according to the medieval foliation, these hagiographical tracts stand apart from the Martyrology of Tallaght and there is no reason to link them either to that text or to Saint Aengus. He also makes the point that ‘Recalling Mael Ruain’s disapproval of anyone who ‘deserts his country’ (déreich a tír) it seems doubtful that a litany of pilgrim saints who either arrived from abroad or who left Ireland for foreign lands has anything to do with Céli Dé. ‘ (Céli Dé in Ireland: monastic writing and identity in the early Middle Ages (Boydell, 2006), 157). Whoever authored this litany, however, which Follet characterizes as 'more learned in tone than devotional', it remains a wonderful listing of saints and of the practice of pilgrimage and the presence in Ireland of Saxon saints, of Romans, of Gauls and perhaps most interestingly, of 'seven Egyptian monks'. Saint Brigid gets a mention too as do a number of other famous Irish saints including Brendan and Kevin. The translation below is of the first part of the litany, which featured in the May 1867 edition of the Irish Ecclesiastical Record. I have not attempted to reproduce either the Irish text or the introduction and accompanying notes, but you can find both in the original volume. The piece is signed B.M.C., the initials I assume of the scholarly priest Bartholomew Mac Carthy (1843-1904), who was a contributor to the journal.

The Litany of Aengus Céile Dé.

[From the Book of Leinster.]

Note: The words which we have put in brackets are written in the original handwriting as a gloss over the names which they follow in the text. Many of them are almost defaced.

Seventeen holy bishops, and seven hundred favoured servants of God, who lie in Cork with Barri and Nessan, whose names are written in the heavens; all these I invoke unto my aid, through Jesus Christ.

Seven times fifty holy bishops, with three hundred priests whom St. Patrick ordained, and three hundred alphabets in consecrating churches, of which was sung:

Seven times fifty holy senior bishops
The Saint consecrated ;
With three hundred pure priests,
Upon whom he conferred orders.
Three hundred alphabets he wrote,
Good was the colouring of his hand ;
Three hundred beautiful churches he left
Which he raised from the ground:
All those I invoke unto my aid, through Jesus Christ.

Thrice fifty holy bishops who lie in the island of Ard Nemhid, I invoke, etc.

Three hundred and fifty holy bishops, three hundred and fifty priests, three hundred and fifty deacons, three hundred and fifty subdeacons, three hundred and fifty exorcists, three hundred and fifty lectors, three hundred and fifty ostiarii, and all the saints, with the blessing of God, in Loch Irchi, in the territory of Muscraighe, and Hy-Eachach Cruadha. As is said :

The protection of Loch Irchi,
In which is a sweet-toned bell :
Numerous as leaves upon trees,
Are the saints who around it dwell :
All these I invoke unto my aid, through Jesus Christ.

Twenty saints in Glendalough with Caemghin, the illustrious priest; Mochoe of Nairid; Melanfis; Molua of Cluandalough; Morioc of Inisbofin; Affinus, (a Franc) and priest; Cellach, a Saxon and archdeacon; Dagan, (of Inbhir Dalia); Moshenoc, (of Mughna); Mochonoc, (of Gaainm) ; Mosinu, (of Glen Munaire); Mobai, (son of Ui Allae); Rufin, (an anchorite); Mogoroc (of Derghne); Silan (a bishop); Darchell (an abbot); Molibha, (Mac Araidhe); Guaire, (Mac Daill); Glunfal, (of Sletty); Murdebur, (brother of Caeman), a wise man and scribe; Corconutan, (brother of Muadha); Aedan Mac Congnaid, (brother of Caeman); Lochan from Cill Manach Escrach; Enna; Petrain (of Cill Lainn); Mothemmoc and Menoc, etc., I invoke, etc.

Seven and twenty holy bishops in Cill Manach Escrach, with Lochan and Enna, I invoke, etc.

Two thousand nine hundred and ten priests in Cluanraor, with Moedhoc and Mac Ineicis (son of the Sage), I invoke, etc.

Three thousand three hundred, with bishop Gerold, and fifty saints of Luighni in Connaught, who settled in Mayo of the Saxons, I invoke, etc.

Seventeen holy bishops in Gill Ailech, in Hy-Echach; two holy bishops in Durthach Hy-Briuin, in Cualgne; and seven pilgrims in Imlech Mor, I invoke, etc.

Thrice fifty holy bishops, with twelve pilgrims under Sinchell the elder, a priest; Sinchell the younger, a bishop; and the twelve bishops who settled in Gill Achidh Dromfota, in Hy-Falghi. These are the names of the bishops of Cill Achidh:

Three Budocis. Nine Grucimnis. Three Conocis. Twelve Uennocis. Morgini. Twelve Contumanis. Six Vedgonis. Twelve Onocis. Six Beuanis. Senchilli. Six Bibis. Britanus, from Britain. Nine Glonalis. Cerrui, from Armenia. Nine Ercocinis.

All these I invoke unto my aid, through Jesus Christ.

Thrice fifty crews of Roman pilgrims, who settled in Hy-Imele, under Notal, Neman the chaste, and Corconutan, I invoke,

Three thousand confessors who assembled in Munster to discuss one question along with bishop Ibar, to whom the angels of God carried the great feast which St. Brigid had prepared for Jesus in her heart, I invoke, etc.

Thrice fifty rule observant ecclesiastics, every one of them a Gaedhil, who went together on pilgrimage, under Abban, son of Ui Cormaic, I invoke, etc.

Thrice fifty other pilgrims, descendants of the men of Rome and Letha, who went with Abban, I invoke, etc.

Seven hundred true monks who were buried in Rathiun, before the coming of Mochuda, upon being expelled thence to Lismore, I invoke, etc.

Eight hundred monks who settled in Lismore with Mochuda, every third of them a favoured servant of God, I invoke, etc.

Thrice fifty true monks under the direction of bishop Ibar, I invoke, etc.

The monks of Fintan, son of Ui Echach. They partook not, save of the herbs of the earth and water; it was impossible to count them because of their great number. Amongst them were eight Fintans, I invoke, etc.

Four thousand monks, with the blessing of God, under the direction of Comgall of Bangor, I invoke, etc.

Thrice fifty true martyrs under the direction of Munna, son of Tulchan, upon whom no one is ever buried, I invoke, etc.

Thrice fifty true pilgrims who went with bishop Buti beyond the sea; and ten holy virgins, with God's blessing, I invoke, etc.

The twelve pilgrims who went beyond the sea with Moedhog of Ferns, I invoke, etc.

Twelve youths who went to heaven with Molasse without sickness, the reward of their obedience, I invoke, etc.

Twelve youths who went with Colum-Cille on a pilgrimage to Scotland, I invoke, etc.

The twelve youths of whom Brendan found the survivor in the island of the Cat, I invoke, etc.

Thrice twenty men who went with Brendan to seek the land of promise, I invoke, etc.

Thrice fifty true monks, with the blessing of God, in Dairiu Chonaid, I invoke, etc.

Four-and-twenty from Munster, who went with Ailbi upon the sea, to reach the land in which Christians ever dwell. The confessor whom Brendan met in the promised land, with all the saints who perished in the isles of the ocean, I invoke, etc.

Colman the Fair with twelve companions in the great house of Cortnae, I invoke, etc.

The Romans in Achudh Galma, in Hy-Echach, I invoke, etc.

The Romans in Letar Erca, I invoke, etc.

The Romans and Cairsech, daughter of Brocan, in Cill Achudh Dallrach, I invoke, etc.

Cuan, a Roman, in Achill, I invoke, etc.

The innocent youths in Gill Ailche, that is, thrice fifty youths,

Alfinus, a holy pilgrim, Moehonoc, Mochasco, and Anfegen, with all their companions in Teach Na Commairge, I invoke, etc.

The Romans in Cluan Caincumni, I invoke, etc.

The pilgrims in Cluan Cainmor, I invoke, etc.

The Romans with Aedan in Cluan Dartada, I invoke, etc.

The twelve Conchennaighi with the two Sinchells in Cill Achidh, I invoke, etc.

The Conchennaighi with Manchan of Leithmor, I invoke, etc.

Seven Egyptian monks in Desert Uilaigh, I invoke, etc.

The pilgrims with Mochua, son of Luscan, in Domhnach Resen, I invoke, etc.

The pilgrims in Beluch Forcitail, I invoke, etc.

The pilgrims in Cuil Ochtar, I invoke, etc.

The Gauls in Saillidu, I invoke, etc.

The Gauls in Magh Salach, I invoke, etc.

The Gauls in Achudh Ginain, I invoke, etc.

The Saxons in Rigar, I invoke, etc.

The Saxons in Cluan Mucceda, I invoke, etc.

The pilgrims in Innis Puinc, I invoke, etc.

The twelve pilgrims in Lethglas Mor, I invoke, etc.

The twelve monks of the Community of Finnio in Ard Brendomhnaig I invoke, etc.

'The Litany of Aengus Céile Dé' in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume 3 (1867), 385-397.

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